Over the past 30 years, the incidence of dementia has decreased an average of 13% every decade in people of European descent living in the US or Europe.
Using this trend, researchers at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health estimate that 15 million fewer people could develop dementia by 2040 in high-income countries than if the incidence of the disease remained stable.
“As the age and life expectancy of the US and European populations increase, the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has increased dramatically, due to the larger group of people at the highest risk ages. “said Lori Chibnik, an assistant professor in the department. of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School.
“However, our analysis shows that the incidence, or the rate of new cases, has been declining, resulting in fewer new cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than we would have expected.”
The results of this study were published in Neurology Journal, and noted that 47 million people worldwide are living with dementia. Due to the rapidly aging population, the number of people living with the disease is expected to triple over the next 30 years, as is the expected socioeconomic burden associated with dementia.
Previous analyzes suggested a decline in incidence over the past 40 years, but most studied smaller populations.
In the current study, Chibnik and his co-authors added data from seven studies that included more than 49,000 people with up to 27 years of follow-up.
In addition to showing an overall decrease in incidence, the researchers also saw consistent trends in different populations in North America and Europe.
In both men and women, the incidence decreased, although men had a greater reduction (24%) than women (8%).
The reasons for the decreased incidence are unclear, although various medical interventions that influence blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation may have contributed.
The researchers note that due to the ethnicity of the study participants, the results may only apply to a minority of the world’s population and recommend that future analyzes include more diverse populations.
“The steady decline in incidence over three decades suggests that preventive efforts involving lifestyle education and health interventions such as blood pressure control and antithrombotic medication can offset at least part of the growing burden of dementia resulting from it. of global advances in life expectancy, ”said Chibnik.
“Providing this evidence of a decline is the first step in elucidating the factors at play behind that decline and ultimately effective interventions to promote brain health.” We will make sure to keep you informed of the most positive news from Chibnik and the team.
Source: Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health; Featured Image: María Magdalena, CC license
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